Uncharitable Gaza

Protective Shield is the third IDF operation in Gaza within the past five years.

The Palestinian civilian death toll has almost certainly passed 1,000 - despite the many IDF attempts to minimise civilian deaths. Gaza is home to a number of charities, many of them British: Islamic Relief, Human Appeal International, Education Aid for Palestinians, Muslim Aid and Interpal, to name a few. On its website, Interpal says: "Interpal is a non-political charity based in the UK… we aim to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people by providing relief and development to those in need." That is a worthy aim. But a question arises. Given their aims, why do these charities not strain every sinew to build bomb-shelters? It is hardly a surprise that when Hamas fires salvoes of rockets with the intention of killing Israelis, Israel responds with aerial bombardments - with the inevitable collateral civilian deaths.

Would not saving Palestinian lives be the single most tangible way of "alleviating the suffering of the Palestinian people"? What could be more important than building bomb-shelters to stop the shedding of innocent Palestinian blood? Have any of these charities actually offered to build shelters? And if they have, has the Hamas government stopped them? There is certainly no shortage of cement for shopping centres - or for the bunkers under hospitals for Hamas leaders, or the miles-long tunnels built to enter Israel for kidnap attempts. In the press this week, sceptics have been asking why Palestinians are complaining of a blockade if so much weaponry is getting through? How can a supposedly "impoverished" government have so many arms? And, if weapons are getting through, why is Hamas complaining about shortages of food or other goods? Because, if weapons are coming through, they are being prioritised over civilian goods. We all know the answer: the Israel-Palestine conflict has never been simply about territory. At its heart it is also about two polar opposite views about the value of human life.

    Last updated: 2:10pm, July 17 2014